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The Biology of Food

Seminar Leader:
Scott Poethig


Species require only two things to survive over time—food and sex—and for some species, sex is optional. This seminar will examine major topics in biology through the lens of food, with a particular emphasis on the ways in which humans modify, and have been modified by, the organisms we eat. Topics will include the chemistry, cell biology, and physiology of plants and animals, human nutrition, and the origin of domesticated plants and animals, focusing on the ways in which domesticated organisms have been genetically modified by humans. We will also examine agricultural systems from an ecological perspective, and consider the place of agriculture in the global economy. Lectures and discussions will be supplemented with class demonstrations, and teachers who have developed particularly effective labs/demonstrations related to food will be encouraged to present these to the class. Classroom educators from many grade levels will find the topics applicable to their teaching of science.

Unit TitleAuthor


Learning the Water, Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles through the Effects of Intensive Farming Techniques

Winnie Chan
Keywords: Biology, carbon cycle, Environmental Science, farming, Food, nitrogen cycle, water cycle

Chemistry: Eating It All Up – Providing Students with the Knowledge and Opportunity to Experience Chemistry Everyday

Sharon Mastrobuoni
Keywords: Chemistry, Food, kitchen experiments, taste

Science for Lunch

Juan Austin
Keywords: Biology, experiments, food science, foods, lunch, Science

How You Gonna Keep’em Down on the Farm

Sue Christmas
Keywords: agriculture, Biology, farming, Food

Introducing 9th Grade Students to the Biology of Food

Sue George
Keywords: bioogy, breakfast, DNA, Food, Health, My plate, nutrition

Photosynthesis: What Have you Done for me Lately?

Richardson Guerrier
Keywords: Biology, PBLA, photosynthesis, Science

You Gonna Eat That?

Glenza Lowman
Keywords: Biology, EEEW, English, Food, healthy lifestyle, Science

Food as Fuel: The Physiology of Nutrition

Heather Zajdel
Keywords: Biology, Food, Health, nutrition